Bonds are notes payable (notes that will be repaid in the future or rather at its maturity) that bear interest during the life of the bond. Typically, bonds are viewed to be safe investments because of its predictable and steady stream of payments (interest). The key difference between stocks and bonds is that when stock is purchased, the stockholder is receiving a percentage of the company they have invested in. In other words, stockholders, depending on the proportion of their investment or the shares they have bought, has a percentage of company ownership and therefore, a certain level of involvement and participation in the company. Another key difference is that bonds have a maturity date whereas stocks do not. Purchasing a bond is simply a form of lending money and receives no such type of ownership as when purchasing stock.

Market Value of Bonds

One of the most important factors in the bond market is the simple topic of determining the price of a bond. For example, an individual who has 5,000 dollars might be interested in investing their money, and in investing their money, they would be able to earn interest from their investment for a decided number of years at which at the maturity of the bond are also repaid. In doing so, this individual would be able to earn more money then they initially started with. Thus, the idea here is in answering the question of how much one must invest today (with a given interest rate) in order to earn a desired amount x years from now, or rather, what is the present value of the desired amount x years from now. Deriving the present value is equivalent to finding the price of a bond which is possible through a method called discounting. Discounting basically requires two steps:

1) Find the present value (PV) of a single sum.

PV of single sum = (FV)/(1+i)n

{PV = present value; FV = future amount desired or also called the future value; i is the given interest rate and n is the number of periods (such as the number of years the life of a bond is) }

2) Find the present value (PV) of an ordinary annuity.

PV of ordinary annuity = (pymt) (1+i)n / i

{pymt = the payment, or rather the interest amount one receives}

Add the value of steps one and two (PV of single + PV of ordinary annuity) to find the value of a bond.

It is necessary to find the present value of a single sum and an ordinary annuity because you are receiving interest annually, semiannually or whatever the agreement is. Likewise, you are also receiving a sum of money in the future as well.

There two similar yet different types of interest, the contractual interest rate and the market interest rate, which are important factors to consider when selling bonds. The contractual interest rate is the interest the borrower must pay and the interest the lender receives, or more simply, it is the interest rate stated on a bond whereas the market interest rate is “the investors demand for loaning funds”. Therefore, bonds can either be sold at a premium, face value, or discount. For example, if the market interest rate is at 15 percent and the contractual interest rate on a bond is 12 percent, the bond would be sold at a discount because the contractual interest is lower than the market rate, the value of the bond goes down. One would pay a value less the than the face value of the bond. Likewise, with the same market rate but now with a contractual interest rate of 18 percent, the bond would be sold at premium since the higher contractual interest rate makes the value of the bond worth more, or rather compensates for the difference in the different interest rates. Thus, when the market rate and contractual interest rate are equivalent, the bond would be sold at